IHOb rebrand

IHOb Rebrand Shows Us How Startups Can Shine in the Shadow of Social Media Giants

You’ve got to start somewhere. For Amy Brown, it was Jan. 2, 2017. The Wendy’s social media manager was manning the company’s Twitter account during the post-holiday downtime when she let loose one of the greatest examples of how companies can use Twitter. In short, Brown didn’t think that the customer is always right and called to question their dispute over Wendy’s “Fresh, Never Frozen” slogan.

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s all good and well for a company that earned $20.2 million in Q1 of 2018, but I can’t afford to lose a single customer, let alone question their intelligence while hiding behind a keyboard.”

As a small business founder and owner, I know where you’re coming from. I also know that my own company is unlikely to pen something as timeless as Wendy’s tone-defining tweet. Truth be told, I’d advise against it. Still, startups, entrepreneurs and small business owners would be foolish to forego social media entirely just because it appears to be an uphill battle.

Instead, follow in the footsteps that Wendy’s and, more recently, IHOb have laid out for us and we can all shine in the shadow of such social media giants.

Smarter, not harder

It doesn’t matter if you’re the proprietor of a brick-and-mortar business on Main Street or if you’re heading up a startup offering a good or service to make people’s lives easier. Either way, you have to reach the masses, and social media is the way we as business owners do this.

Landing news media coverage isn’t always easy, so creating a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page allows you to become your own public relations department and reach hundreds, if not thousands, of users in the process. A unique slant on an emerging story can help a brand out immensely in exchange for minimal working hours.

When my company manages social media accounts for clients, posts are created in-house, approved by the company and shared online across various platforms. Take a look at the unique impressions and reach of your own social media posts to figure out if you need to target certain relevant groups or if your current approach is even working.

Related: Social Media Strategies for Your Business

Drive your brand with confidence

Confidence is key. Take a look around and take stock of everything your company has already accomplished. Then, take that momentum and translate it into a social media post.

Brandon Rhoten, who was Wendy’s vice president of advertising at the time of the tweet heard ‘round the world, described the company’s Twitter tone as “challenger with charm,” according to a Mashable article.

Confidence is also a driving factor when it comes to building up brand hype for your startup.

In IHOP’s case, the company teased at the fact that it had changed its name — but the “b” in IHOb had yet to be revealed until earlier this week.

(Image via IHOb Twitter)

Who didn’t assume this meant “breakfast”? And if it indeed did, then who cares? But most of us were wrong, as we came to find out that “b” stood for “burgers.”

Since burgers and pancakes have very little in common and this involved a company founded in 1958 changing both name and direction, this was warranted hype. From the perspective of an entrepreneur, you need to know when it’s the right time to drum up public interest of a similar level.

My short list for catchy social media hype would be this:

  • A significant sale on a popular product
  • Expansion made possible by previous company successes
  • Recent news event that pertains directly to the industry you’re in
  • A hiring spree that wants to reach people who share the same values

Proven pitfalls

You’ve probably seen playful social media posts from your local municipal police or fire department about rescuing a cat stuck up a tree. If done right, this approach works wonders for boosting brand reputation. However, if done repeatedly, followers will think you don’t take your job, company or industry seriously.

If there’s a special offering or event that your company wants to share, shop the idea of a playful post around in-house. It’s sometimes best to play it straight and just share the facts.

Personally, I wouldn’t call out competitors by name. It looks like sour grapes and turns social media followers on to other nearby companies in the same field as yours. However, there’s nothing wrong with looking at what these same competitors are their doing and using their trial and error as a guide for what you should share online.

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Time and tone

Amy Brown no longer works at Wendy’s. According to a 2017 interview with Columbus Monthly magazine, she has clearly moved on from letting a single tweet made from a corporate account tell her story.

Wendy’s, however, is still proudly carrying that flag and we can see it in response to IHOb’s announcement:

(Photo via Wendy’s Twitter)

That one raked in more than 100,000 retweets.

The numbers game never ends, and the more recognition you get online, the more likely you are to boost leads, conversions and yes, even foot traffic. If you’ve got something that the public wants, then they are going to find you. Still, there’s nothing wrong with a little social media marketing to nudge them forward when time and tone permits.

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